Warren Gatland today announced the 35-man Wales squad, captained by Sam Warburton, which will travel to Poland, next week for the 2012 RBS 6 Nations training camps.
The Wales head coach has stuck with the majority of his much hailed Rugby World Cup side, adding just four players who did not feature in either his extended 45-man pre-RWC training squad or the December international against Australia at the Millennium Stadium.
Blues wing Harry Robinson, Saracens prop Rhys Gill, uncapped Ospreys pair Ashley Beck and Rhys Webb are the only players in the squad who have not been in the international selector's plans this season so far. Harry Robinson won the Cardiff Blues 2010/11 Academy Player of the Year Award. Robinson had an outstanding season and became the youngest ever player to represent the Cardiff Blues, when, aged 17 years and nine months, he lined up against the Ospreys in the LV= Cup.
The squad is set to be reduced again after Wales return from an intense seven-day period at the specialist training camp which utilizes cryotherapy chambers to improve recovery and allow players to cram more training sessions into a given day.
But Gatland is confident he has the right blend of youth, talent and experience to mount a highly credible challenge on the 2012 RBS 6 Nations title next month, which begins with a Celtic double header against Ireland, away, and Scotland, at home at the Millennium Stadium, on the first two weekends in February.
"We have had to strike a balance with this squad, the majority are those players who excelled for Wales during the Rugby World Cup, but are also taking the opportunity to look at one or two youngsters before probably cutting our numbers even further before the start of the RBS 6 Nations," said Gatland.
"We have kept a couple of older heads and we have injuries, with Alun Wyn Jones, Josh Turnbull, Rob McCusker and Luke Charteris all unavailable to us, but the emphasis on development and planning for the future is there for everyone to see.
"These are exciting times for Welsh rugby, we showed a huge amount of potential at the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand and we will be working as hard as humanly possible to ensure that we reach our potential in this year's 6 Nations championship."
Mike PHILLIPS (BAYONNE)
Lloyd WILLIAMS (CARDIFF BLUES)
Rhys WEBB (OSPREYS)
Rhys PRIESTLAND (SCARLETS)
James HOOK (PERPIGNAN)
Jamie ROBERTS (CARDIFF BLUES)
Jonathan DAVIES (SCARLETS)
Scott WILLIAMS (SCARLETS)
Gavin HENSON (CARDIFF BLUES)
Ashley BECK (OSPREYS – Uncapped)
George NORTH (SCARLETS)
Leigh HALFPENNY (CARDIFF BLUES)
Alex CUTHBERT (CARDIFF BLUES)
Harry ROBINSON (CARDIFF BLUES)
Liam WILLIAMS (SCARLETS – Uncapped)
Lee BYRNE (ASM CLERMONT AUVERGNE)
Craig MITCHELL (EXETER CHIEFS)
Adam JONES (OSPREYS)
Ryan BEVINGTON (OSPREYS)
Gethin JENKINS (CARDIFF BLUES)
Paul JAMES (OSPREYS)
Rhys GILL (SARACENS)
Rhodri JONES (SCARLETS – Uncapped)
Matthew REES (SCARLETS)
Huw BENNETT (OSPREYS)
Ken OWENS (SCARLETS)
Bradley DAVIES (BLUES)
Ian EVANS (OSPREYS)
Lou REED (SCARLETS – Uncapped)
Ryan JONES (OSPREYS)
Dan LYDIATE (NEWPORT GWENT DRAGONS)
Sam WARBURTON (CARDIFF BLUES, CAPTAIN)
Justin TIPURIC (OSPREYS)
Toby FALETAU (DRAGONS)
Andy POWELL (SALE)